Our former pastor, Father Mark Spalding once said, “Good, better, best, never let it rest, until the good is better and the better is best.” Our school, Holy Trinity, lives by this motto throughout our everyday lives, which is evident in our service projects. One such service project is a service mission to Appalachia, a region stricken with poverty with inhabitants who are in need of help. Our school provides the 8th Grade class every year with the opportunity to travel to Appalachia and serve the people there. I traveled to Appalachia this year to participate in this trip with half of my class, with roughly 40 people, consisting of my peers as workers and their parents and the school staff as chaperones.
Serving with peers in Appalachia has been an enriching experience. The first day we arrived, the adults separated us and placed us into small groups where we were tasked with buying canned food and clothing from a local grocery store. In those groups, we were placed with people we didn’t generally hang out with. As we shopped, I learned more about their interests and their passions in life. For the second day, a construction day, our teachers placed us in different groups again, but with more people this time. We worked on building a front porch and insulating water pipes for a delightful old woman. With my peers, I conversed with her and discovered all the stories she had that she hadn’t shared before. Which leads me to the third day, where we delivered the bags of food and clothing to local schools. With my peers, the mission trip to Appalachia has been a wonderful one, and I am glad I had the opportunity to learn more about the situation in Appalachia, as well as my classmates.
However, it isn’t just my peers I served with. Throughout the mission trip, I also worked with my teachers, school staff, and parents who volunteered to chaperone. Serving with them was enlightening, as they experienced all the things that every 8th grade class did in this poverty-stricken region. They tell me stories about the years before, and how much we worked, and how much we have improved the lives of those we work for. They provide us with the tools to construct; with wood, hammers, drills, power saws, shovels, picks, etc, and instruct us on how to use them. Without our peers and chaperones, we would be lost in what we are to do. They keep the whole service trip organized, so that we may help as many people as we can. One-fourth of our group are adults, who have sacrificed their time to serve. Our teachers and chaperones are vital to the trip, and with it, I have realized how important the trip is to them and our school.
With both my classmates and my teachers by my side, we have helped several people, including many homeowners and workers in the region. The second day, as I said before, we traveled to a quaint house nestled in the forest on the mountain and worked on covering water pipes so that they won't freeze in the winter. As a separate group dug, my friends and I worked on building the front porch for the same house. We made measurements, cut the wood boards, and evenly put them in their proper place. Throughout it all, we conversed with the owner of the home, who shared with us her experiences throughout her childhood and adulthood. We learned why she wouldn’t move out of her home; despite how simple and small it is, it is hers, and she is proud. She is proud of her home and where she lives, and nothing could change that. It was eye-opening to listen to her stories and humbled me at the heart.
Our 8th Grade class was given the opportunity to serve people in need in the poor province of Appalachia through our school Holy Trinity. In the service trip, we served with our peers, teachers, and parent volunteers to serve those who need our help. Throughout it all, I learned more about my classmates and my teachers, as well as the people who lived there, and their stories. This mission humbled me in ways I didn’t think were possible, and opened my eyes to how alike we are, despite our very different lives. We are all the same, but some may struggle more than others. It is then our job to use our time and our energy to help those less fortunate than us, as that is what we are called to do as human beings. As Father Mark Spalding, now Bishop Spalding said, "We are called to make the good better, and the better…best."